What does an organic strawberry plant mean
It means from the very beginning these plants are grown in fertile,
nourishing organic soil and that no chemicals are used in the growing,
packing or processing of the plant or the fruit. Commercial strawberry
production is extremely dependent on the use of chemical herbicides and
pesticides. Most strawberry fields are first
treated with a chemical to destroy any pathogens that may interfere with
that perfect strawberry and then covered with plastic to keep bugs and weeds
at bay. The chemicals can be absorbed by the roots of the plant and
taken up by the fruit. This chemical treatment is followed by more spraying
to rid the plants of bugs or disease. The use of plastic causes a lot of
soil erosion which depletes the soil and makes more chemical fertilizer necessary. And,
since strawberries are mostly water, a lot of run off occurs during the
watering process taking with it the nitrates and other chemicals found in
these fertilizers into common
water areas. And, since commercial growers usually start fresh each winter,
the onslaught of chemicals and the preponderance of plastic waste is
expansive. By growing an organic strawberry
in an organic environment, you can truly enjoy one of life's
little pleasures with full assurance that there are no hidden substances in
or on your little ruby gems!
A few growing tips for your strawberry
Strawberries can be a bit ornery to grow.
They have some very specific requirements and there are some helpful things
to know about growing them. First and foremost is that they don't compete
with weeds well.
Second is that, in order to grow plump and
juicy, they need plenty of water and nutrients plus excellent drainage.
Their need for water is compounded by their shallow root system that can dry
Third is that while the strawberry loves the water, the moistness is also
very attractive to ground bugs like mealy bugs and earwigs. These little
bugs like to hollow out homes for themselves in the berries. The abundance of water can also cause ripening fruit to rot where it touches
Fourth is that the fruit is tastiest when it fully ripens on the
plant. Unfortunately, this is also the stage the birds tend to come in and
swipe them right out from under you.
It might seem hopeless, but there are some
simple solutions. Strawberries seem to grow better in raised beds or in
containers. These can be filled with top-quality compost or potting soil
which helps to encourage beneficial bacteria and earthworms. Raised beds
containing quality topsoil can
be filled with strawberries, mulched with compost (which adds to fertility), and covered with clean
straw to help conserve moisture and keep the strawberries off the ground. Raised beds need only
be a foot tall and two feet wide. Planting two rows of strawberries about 8
inches apart will provide a strawberry bonanza.
Hanging baskets are ideal because the
berries can hang in the air, which keeps the ground bugs away. If
watering a hanging basket is a concern, any container can be used and placed atop walls or
on blocks in the path of automatic sprinklers which keeps water levels more consistent.
If it comes down to you or the birds, set up one of our
motion detector sprinklers aimed at the strawberries. It will deter a lot of
different kinds of critters that might be after your goodies. A
also be used to deter birds and flying insects. These light-weight cloths
let light, water and air through and are an inexpensive way to protect your
To encourage nice large plants, runners
(also called daughters)
can be pruned off during the first part of the growing season. These can be
potted up and replanted in another spot. Also, if the plants have
not yet reached a good size, the first flowers can be pinched out to encourage
more leaf growth, which will mean more food for the strawberries later and more fruit
Fertilizing with an organic all purpose
fertilizer during the first phase of
growth and an organic bloom fertilizer once the flowers start showing up
really helps to keep the plants vigorous and healthy. Healthy plants have
fewer disease problems and attract fewer insects.
Strawberries are hardy to Zone 4. Zones 4
and 5 may benefit from a mulch applied to the strawberries after they go
dormant. Straw is typically used and is applied about 2 inches thick over
the tops of the plants. This can be removed in the spring if it has not
degraded enough for the plants to poke through.
For more information on growing